Building Permits Top City Agenda

By Jill Fennema –

Last week, the Edgerton City Council entertained several building permits. They also checked out a rough draft of a new fence ordinance they are considering adopting.

Before beginning the discussion on the building permits, the council heard a request from Denny Bleyenburg, asking that the council consider streamlining the process for obtaining building permits.

Bleyenburg is a local contractor and a former member of the Edgerton City Council. He asked that the council consider having a two-member committee of a council member and a city employee to check out building permit applications throughout the month.

“I was trying to think of a way that we can speed up the building permit process,” Bleyenburg explained. He has had it happen several times that he has told a property owner that he does not have time to do a small project, but then has had some time open up. However, it often happens that the homeowner has not gotten a building permit in the meantime because they didn’t think they were going to be able to do the project at that time.

Without the building permit, the contractor cannot proceed until after the next council meeting. The council meets once a month on the first Wednesday of the month. Building permit applications must be submitted by the last Wednesday of the preceding month.

Last year the council decided to ask for building permit applications to be submitted a week before the meeting in order to ensure that city administration had time to check the permits and make sure the work being planned was allowed by city ordinance.

According to the ordinance, “a building permit shall be required prior to construction, repair, or alteration of structures regulated by the Minnesota State Building Code, driveways, sidewalks, patio slaps, fences, decks, steps, porches, and storage sheds. A building permit shall not be required for construction, repair, or alteration of swing sets, play equipment, or structures used exclusively for providing shelter for pets.”

Bleyenburg, and later in the meeting another builder, Kirk Dirksen, explained that they were not looking for a building inspector, but rather just someone to check that a building permit was in compliance and that the property owner was in fact doing what the application spelled out.

Dirksen expressed his frustration with this process, because he said he can obtain a building permit in neighboring towns where he does work on the same day he begins the work.

Mayor Jason Snyder explained that the council did not want to get building permits applications without time to properly review them. He added that people who are going to build or pour concrete generally know their plans months before they act on them. The council simply wants people to plan accordingly.

A building permit can be obtained up to 240 days before a project begins and is good for a year after that.

Clerk Michael Vander Haar expressed his fear that a committee would not work out. He used to work in Pipestone, where decisions on building permits are made by the city building inspector, who is licensed for that work. Vander Haar expressed that he and the deputy clerk try to be very thorough in their work, but that works takes time and there are questions that arise.

Sometimes property owners need to get a survey of their property, in order to ensure that they are building on their own lot and within the setback limits. One of the questions that the city administration may ask include where the property lies in relationship to the neighbors. They also like to see a drawing of the project plan.

City employees can now view the lay of the land without leaving the office, by using a program called Pictrometry. This is a computer program that uses a satellite images of town with property lines and parcel numbers included.

For the complete article, please see the September 13th edition of the Edgerton Enterprise. If you do not currently receive the Enterprise, CLICK HERE for information on how to subscribe!